Saint of the Day for 13 July: Saint Henry II
The Holy ruler who embodied faith and justice
Saint Henry II
6 May 972, Bad Abbach or Hildesheim, Germany
13 July 1024, Grona, Germany
O God, who hast filled Saint Henry with thy gifts and from earthly kingship hast raised him to the eternal crown, assist and protect thy faithful, that amidst the vicissitudes of the world they may run to thee in righteousness and holiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who is God, and lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
4 March 1145, Rome, Pope Eugene III
Saint Henry, Emperor of the Romans, worked with his wife Saint Cunegonda to renew the life of the Church and propagate the faith of Christ throughout Europe; moved by missionary zeal, he established many episcopal sees and founded monasteries. In Grona near Göttingen in Germany he left his life on this day.
The Saint and Mission
St. Henry II is best known for his missionary work in Sweden, where he endeavoured to spread the Christian faith among the Scandinavian pagans. At the time, a large part of the Swedish population followed the pagan Nordic religion, and Henry undertook conversion work through preaching and education.
During his ministry, Henry founded churches, established schools and promoted the construction of monasteries. In addition, he tried to strengthen the authority of the Catholic Church in Sweden, working on the organisation of the church hierarchy and the promotion of the local clergy.
However, his missionary efforts were not without obstacles. Resistance from pagans and local aristocrats hostile to the spread of Christianity led to conflicts and tensions. Despite this, Henry persevered in his mission and tried to bring the light of the Gospel to even the most remote regions.
Unfortunately, his missionary efforts came to a tragic end. In 1156, during a mission in the kingdom of Finlândia (present-day Finland), Henry was murdered by a pagan nobleman named Lalli. His death was seen as a martyrdom and helped to strengthen Christianity in Sweden.
After his death, Henry became a symbol of missionary zeal and was venerated as a saint. Over the centuries, his figure has been an object of veneration in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Saint Henry II represents an example of dedication and sacrifice in the work of spreading Christianity. His life and martyrdom inspire believers to pursue evangelisation and defend the faith despite the difficulties they may encounter along the way.
The Saint and Mercy
Saint Henry II was a ruler who embodied the essence of mercy in his life and reign. Despite his position of power and authority, he demonstrated a compassionate heart and great sensitivity towards those who were marginalised and in need.
St Henry II exercised his authority wisely and justly, but always with a deep sense of mercy. He promoted peace and reconciliation between people, seeking to resolve conflicts with compassion and forgiveness.
His generosity towards the poor and marginalised was evident in his efforts to build hospitals, monasteries and charitable institutions to provide care and treatment to those in need. He devoted time and resources to alleviating the suffering of others, thus demonstrating God’s mercy in action.
St. Henry II teaches us that mercy is not just a feeling, but a virtue expressed through concrete actions. He invites us to respond to the needs of others with compassion and to work to create a more just and inclusive society.
His testimony challenges us to live mercy in our daily lives, to extend a hand to those in need, to forgive those who have hurt us and to be instruments of reconciliation and love in the world.
S. Henry was born in 972 to Henry, King of Bavaria, and Gisela, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy. He had an excellent character, noble sentiments and rare virtue: qualities that made him a holy emperor.
Crowned by Benedict VIII on 22nd February 1014, Henry understood how necessary humility was for him not to prevaricate; and he therefore sought it and exercised it in all his actions. He used to say that God wanted two things from him: his own sanctification and the welfare of his subjects: a programme that the glorious monarch fulfilled commendably in…